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By Sam Sooppersaud
The last cricket game in any organized cricket tournament in the New York Metropolitan area was played at Marine Park, Brooklyn. N.Y. on Sunday, October 14, 2012, with the staging of the Hussain Rana Twenty20 Finals between Punjab Lions and Bedessee Destroyers.
The tournament, co-sponsored by Emirates Airlines, was organized and sponsored by Rana Sporting Goods, a seller of cricket equipment. There was a large turnout at the park, the diehard cricket fans figuring that this would be their last opportunity to watch a cricket match this year in the NYC area. The weather cooperated with temperatures in the 70's. Many fans were seen entering the park decked in their light winter coats, but no sooner than they came out of their cars the coats were gone. Such was the weather for the game. The sun shone brightly.
The game was a low-scoring one yet it created the excitement that T20 contests are known for. The final run for the winning team was not hit until the last ball of their 19th over.
The Punjab Lions took first knock. Bedessee opened with their slow bowlers, a practice that has become a constant in this format of the game, much so internationally. In the very first over Punjab lost a wicket via the run out route. A careless misunderstanding by the batsmen, attempting a third run, saw one of them stranded (6 for 1). By the half way point (10 overs) they were 42 for 4, with two victims falling by the run out route. Wickets fell at regular interval. The best (7th wicket) partnership was 28 runs between W. Aktar (15) and Z. Khan (11). The innings folded at 95 runs for 9 wickets with Skipper Bilal Ahmed scoring 26 of those runs. In the bowling department for Bedessee Destroyers: K. Lake 4-1-17-2, T. Walter 4-0-25-3, A. Kirton 4-1-21-1, and B. Bartley 4-0-17-1 accounted for the Lions wickets.
Needing 96 runs for victory, Bedessee Destryoers commenced their inning cautiously. In the 4th over they lost S. Ali, who, normally a run getter, looked completely estranged to batting reality. His misery ended when he was caught at short mid-off for 2 runs off the 10 balls he faced. At the other end Quasen Alfred was having an easier time scoring freely than his subdued opening partner. At 20 for 1 in the 4th over, Alfred had scored 18 runs. A 40 runs 2nd wicket partnership between Alfred (42) and Zaheer Saffie put the Destroyers on target for an easy victory.
The Lions should get credit for turning in their best performance in the face of imminent defeat. From 60 for 2, the Destroyers slipped to 64 for 6 wickets in the 13th over. Punjab put on the death hold but it was not enough to pin Zaheer Saffie (14*) or Skipper Andre "Rusty" Kirton (18*). The victory did not come easy for the Destroyers. With 26 legal balls left they needed 28 runs. At one stage both batsmen were bottled in, geting a single here and there. But then they decided to showcase a grand finale. It was now 20 required runs in 18 balls. In the 18th over Rusty belted a maximum over long-on followed by two doubles. Two wides followed: 8 runs needed in 12 balls. Skipper Bilal Ahmed took the ball and four deliveries, two doubles and one boundary later, the Bedessee Destroyers were the 2012 Rana Twenty20 Champions. For Punjab Lions, A. Nasim turned in excellent bowling figures of 4-1-10-3. B. Riaz and R. Akram claimed a wicket apiece for 20 and 18 runs, respectively.
At the presentation ceremony that followed Shadi Khan, Coach Linden Fraser, American League President Wesley King, and Babbar were recognized for their Generous Support and Contribution to cricket and to the tournament. Each was presented with a Plaque. All the players, on both sides, were given a trophy in recognition of their participation in the Finals.
The Most Valuable Player (MVP) was awarded to Quasen Alfred for his 42 runs scored and an excellent job behind the wicket, claiming two victims, one caught, one run out. He received a cricket bat. Babbar also received a bat for his consistent scoring during the tournament. Punjab Lions received the Runners-Up Trophy and a $1000 cheque, and the winners, Bedessee Destroyers, took home the Winners Trophy and a $2000 cheque.